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Winds of Change

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Today, the ACC accepted Syracuse and Pittsburgh.  The main impetus of this move is football, the addition of two programs that have won national championships which enhances the stature of that conference in the BCS.  The by products of such a move are the inevitable increase in the strength of the ACC as a basketball conference while also insuring its existence if/when the SEC comes calling for some of the ACC football programs that have been rumored moving.  Football, and the associated dollars from television and bowl games, is THE and ONLY driver in these moves.

So what does this mean for the Big East and the Big 12?  Will there be four, five or six super conferences founded on football?  And what will happen to the rest of the collegiate athletic landscape? 

Certainly the Big East has been weakened.  Look for UConn and Rutgers in particular to attempt to flee that conference.  If the Big East is going to survive, it must look west to the Big 12, which has its own issues in remaining intact.  A year ago, there was a distinct possibility that Kansas would be left in the cold with conference realignment...amazing that one of the hallowed basketball programs could be without a conference home.  Texas A&M, Texas, Texas Tech, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State are all mulling over the possibilities for their institutions.

A couple of years ago, my good friend Dave O'Brien a former athletics director and now the director of the Drexel University sports management program, suggested the creation of a Catholic basketball conference based upon the WCC model.  Today, maybe more so than ever, this move appears to make great sense.  Imagine an "East Coast Conference" with Georgetown, St. Johns, Villanova, Providence, St. Joseph, Marquette, Creighton, and a handful of other candidates creating a basketball rich environment. 

I am very proud of the WCC, through the leadership of Commissioner Jamie Zaninovich, taking the initiative in seeking out BYU to become a Conference member.  We took decisive action to strengthen the Conference rather than watching curiously the happens around the college athletic scene hoping to be minimally negatively impacted.  Certainly those Catholic schools mentioned above must feel somewhat powerless, but they shouldn't.  They can take their fate in their own hands and create something that matches who they are.

Being proactive is what the non-football power schools should be doing in the Big East and the Atlantic 10 Conference.  Basketball is the game for universities like LMU and basketball players want to go where they are the focus of the university rather than encore acts for football.  Where all of this will end I am uncertain.  But I do know, it isn't over.

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